Enterprise Apps should be Fun!

Salesforce.com Developer Evangelist, Pat Patterson, recently published a blog article about visualizing salesforce.com data through Minecrafta game of discovery enjoyed by kids ranging nine years of age to 19. 

The demonstration of his resulting app, Forecraft, highlights the power of visualizing data.  And more than that, it demonstrates the power of making your business applications entertaining and fun.

I was taken in by the app. The discovery elements of Minecraft created a desire to examine more of the salesforce.com data.  Imagine if it was my job to analyze sales data formatted in this manner! This would be one of the coolest jobs (second only to what doing now).

Gamification is a common example of applying game constructs to draw sales users into the app.  This is just as compelling for employees who are driven by challenge and the desire to win (sales people), as Pat’s demo may be for those employees desiring discovery.  

The critical distinction is that the two roles are driven by different motivations.  People in sales are naturally competitive and want the challenge while others are driven by the need for discovery (solving problems) or sensation (for all you people in marketing).

Traditional gamification and Pat’s demonstration of Forecraft illustrates the need to pay attention to the aesthetics of an application.  Game creators have been focusing on aesthetics in making games desirable to their target audience, and enterprise application developers need to learn from them.  

Not all of your employees are driven by the same kind of “fun” described above. As cool as Pat’s demo is, a sales person would completely disregard it while someone in sales operations may be drawn in. 

Enterprise app creators need to focus on the aesthetics of applications, first by knowing who their users are and what motivates them.  The current incarnation of gamification is just an example of what’s possible, and is focused on a narrow subset of application users.  Your goal should be to make your applications fun for each of your employees. Strive to understand your users and what motivates them, and productivity and innovation will abound.  Felicitas ex nebula